.News Update 11/21/08

Jackie Cabasso Awarded MacBride Peace Prize

November 21, 2008

Fifty years ago on October 31, 1958, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower placed a moratorium on all nuclear testing for one year, effectively taking a step away from the international arms race and setting in motion the beginning of the end of atmospheric testing in the world.

Peace groups and demonstrators see the 1958 Nuclear Test Moratorium as an example of the power of long-term protest. After years of outcry from peace groups and activists, the pressure of public opinion in the world led to the U.S. placing a moratorium on nuclear testing. Though violations of the moratorium occurred not infrequently, the moratorium helped lay the groundwork for the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 and later the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty of 1996.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty prohibits all nuclear explosions. The international treaty has yet to be ratified by the necessary 44 states, including the nine states of Iran, Israel, North Korea, Indonesia, Egypt, India, Pakistan, China, and the U.S.

President-elect Barack Obama said during his campaign that he aimed to secure ratification by the U.S. Senate as soon as possible. If the U.S. were to ratify the treaty, it could help bring around the other holdouts. Tabor Toth, the treaty organization's executive secretary, said Obama's commitment means that "we are turning the corner in a wider political sense... and the nine remaining dominoes should fall."

Around the time of the fiftieth anniversary, the International Peace Bureau (IPB) presented its annual award, the Sean MacBride Peace Prize, to Jacqueline Cabasso, a well-known US advocate of nuclear disarmament. For more information on the MacBride Peace Prize, visit http://www.ipb.org/macbride.html. Since 1984, Cabasso has served as Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF) based in Oakland, California. http://www.wslfweb.org/ For over 25 years, Cabasso has been an advocate for nuclear disarmament, peace and environmental protection at the local, national and international levels.

IPB President Tomas Magnusson declared, "At this crucial time in history, just days after the momentous US election result, IPB believes this award to Jackie Cabasso will help underline the urgency for the new administration and for all other nuclear-armed states, of taking bold steps towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. She has played a vital role within the movement by acting as a constant 'watchdog', monitoring closely and challenging the work going on inside the nuclear weapons laboratories; and as critical voice in the nuclear debate 'beyond the Washington beltway.'"

In her acceptance speech, Cabasso addressed what is needed to make the change. She said, "What's called for is a straightforward, unambiguous demand for the global abolition of nuclear weapons. This suggests the need for immediate negotiations and a timebound framework. Our demand, however, must be coupled with a clear-eyed recognition of the central role nuclear weapons continue to play in the National Security State, firmly in place since 1945, and a much deeper understanding of the powerful forces that have successfully perpetuated the nuclear weapons enterprise despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War nearly 20 years ago."

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